Monday, April 30, 2012

First Lilacs (Cummings Center Pond)

Every year, I go out looking at lilacs with my daughter. This year, the lilacs are blooming a few weeks early, probably because of the warm temperatures we had a few weeks ago. Yesterday we saw some lilacs at the Cummings Center Pond, here in Beverly, MA. Tonight I edited this picture in iPhoto, cropping it to focus on the flowers, and still show a bit of the pond in the background.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tree with Pale Pink and White Blossoms

Yesterday I posted a closeup view of pale pink and white blossoms on a flowering tree. Today's image is a different view of the same tree. I took both photos last week at Long Hill Gardens, here in Beverly, Massachusetts. Tonight I used iPhoto to crop the original photo to get this composition, showing how the tree looks from far away.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Closeup of Pink and White Blossoms at Long Hill Gardens

Here is another image from last Sunday's walk at Long Hill Gardens, here in Beverly, MA. Everything seemed to be blooming at once. I saw a beautiful tree full of delicate white and pale pink blossoms, so I got up close and took some pictures with my iPhone camera. But I wanted an even closer view, so tonight I used iPhoto to crop the original to get this composition.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Accidental Inspiration for Colorado Drawing (Aspen)

This image is a photo of a printing mishap that turned into accidental inspiration. This is a print out of a pencil sketch that I scanned into my computer on Wednesday. It is from a little 5 x 8" sketchbook from a 1980's trip through the Colorado mountains. I am making a series of drawings based on these old sketches. using these old sketches to create a series of drawings. I scan them, print out the scans in the same size, and use graphite paper to trace the image into a new sketchbook, so I can draw into the sketch with marker and colored pencil and conte crayon. Well, when I printed this sketch out, I was expecting it to be just black and white, but this is the image that came out. (Apparently the printer heads need cleaning, big time.) My first reaction was to laugh because I immediately liked the way the image looked in blue. I had been wondering how I would handle the dark shaded areas in the drawing, and now I know. I even like the striped pattern in the background. Maybe there is a way to use that, too.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sun on the Water at Lynch Park (Beverly, MA)

Yesterday we went for a late afternoon walk at Lynch Park, an ocean-front park here in Beverly, MA. The weather did not look promising for a walk. (This week we are back to cloudy weather, cooler temperatures, and rain.) But shortly after we arrived, there was a break in the clouds. The sudden sunlight created a beautiful streak of bright light at the shore line, so I took some pictures with my iPhone camera. Tonight I edited this one in iPhoto, straightening, adjusting highlights and shadows, and cropping to get this composition.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Colorado Sketchbook Aspen

Colorado Sketchbook Aspen by randubnick
Colorado Sketchbook Aspen, a photo by randubnick on Flickr.

Several months ago, I came across an old sketchbook from the 1980s that I had taken along during a trip home to Colorado. The sketchbook is 5 x 8 inches, a great size for travel. It was summer, approximately 1986 or 1987. We drove into the mountains and when I was in the passenger seat, I would grab a pencil and the sketchbook so I could try to capture the contours of the mountains as they rushed by. Sometimes I would even write down the approximate location. Well, this fall I started a series of drawings based on this litte Colorado sketchbook. I made a good start with this series (even had one in a show). Although I have been busy and working on other projects, I haven't forgotten this one. I have been wanting to get back to it, so today I got started. This is one of the quick drawings from the original sketchbook, a view of Aspen. Today I scanned this drawing into my computer, which is the first step. I am glad to have this image scanned because I do like it just as it is. The next step is to print out a copy the same size as the original, and trace over it with graphite paper, to create a new version that I can draw into with conte crayon, pastel, colored pencil, and marker.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Unexpected Sun at Obear Park

The day started with rain and cool temperatures. By afternoon, it was still cloudy and cool, but we went to Obear Park anyway. Obear is a little ocean-front park here in Beverly, MA, and it is usually windy there, so I was expecting to be cold. But the sun came out just as we got there. I liked the look of the water shining in the sun, so I took some pictures. Tonight I edited this one in iPhoto. The back-lit clouds were interesting, but creating some visual problems as well. I toned down the highlights and muted the shadows, and then cropped the photo to get this composition. I think I might want to paint this scene sometime.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Red Bud Tree at Long Hill Gardens

We went to Long Hill Gardens over the weekend, and everything was blooming at once! I loved this red bud tree, so I took some pictures of it against the dark tree in the background. I am partial to red bud trees, not only because they are so beautiful, but also because they remind me of the University of Kansas, where red buds are planted all along the main road on campus (Jayhawk Boulevard). At KU In late April, you walk under a purple canopy of red bud branches.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pink Dogwood (Posterized Photo)

I have a great view of pink dogwood out my window, and a few days ago, I stopped what I was doing to take some pictures. I liked the bright green of the trees leafing out contrasting with the beautiful flowers. Today I used Painter 12 to posterize and crop the original photo to get this image. I decided to post this for Earth Day. Sometimes the big questions are hard to think about, and it is easier to start with what is close at hand. When you look out your window, you are looking at the planet Earth! How is it doing where you are? How's the weather? Are the flowers blooming earlier than they did last year? Is there enough rain? Do you see bees buzzing around your flowers? It is easier to love the flowers out the window than to love the planet in the abstract, but really, it's the same thing.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bright Flowers

Bright Flowers by randubnick
Bright Flowers, a photo by randubnick on Flickr.

I saw these flowers outside the grocery store this morning. I had a list of things to do today, but the colors were beautiful, so I stopped to take a picture with my iPhone camera. Tonight I adjusted the shadows and did a little retouching in iPhoto. I am glad I took a few minutes to look at these flowers because it reminded me to stop rushing and focus. The day goes so much better if I remember to pay attention to the good things happening right under my nose.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Field of Forget-Me-Nots (Digital Woodcut)

Yesterday's post was a digitally modified and posterized photo of forget-me-nots. I took the original photo at the beginning of April at Long Hill Gardens, here in Beverly, MA, and used Painter 12 to modify it. Last night I also used Painter to create this digital woodcut version.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Field of Forget-Me-Nots (Posterized Photo)

This image began as a photo that I took on April 1, during a walk at Long Hill Gardens. We had an early warm spell and so many things were in bloom at once that day that I almost didn't notice the forget-me-nots. They appear every year around the same time, and they usually bloom before most other flowers, so they are easier to notice. Although each of the little blue flowers is quite small, together they create big areas of blue under the trees. Once I noticed them there, I took a picture with my iPhone camera. Tonight I edited the original photo in Painter, cleaning up some weeds with digital pastel. Then I posterized the image and cropped it to get this image. (I also created a digital woodcut of this image, which I plan to post tomorrow.) When I was younger, I used to wonder why these are called forget-me-nots. What do they remind us not to forget? But now I know more about forget-me-nots, and about the importance of remembering, and the gentle caution of these flowers makes more sense to me now.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Riding Trail (Bradley Palmer State Park)

Yesterday, on the way home from the vet, we stopped to walk the dog at Bradley Palmer State Park (near Topsfield, MA). We have stopped there often, but this was the first time we decided to walk along this riding trail. The trees and shrubs along the path were just beginning to leaf out. I took a couple of pictures with my iPhone camera. Tonight I edited this one with iPhoto, cropping it to get this composition. I also kicked up the saturation just a bit to bring out the gentle green-gold haze of the young leaves.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chicken Collage Day 21 (Apr. 17, 2012)

I went up to the studio this afternoon and spent about an hour working on this collage, a chicken made up of paper patterns. (This is an idea that came to me last year while I was admiring some real live chickens at Long Hill Gardens.) Today I added some more white pattern to the body of the bird, and also added more pattern to the wing. This project is slow going, but working on this chicken always makes me smile.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Magnolias in Boston's Back Bay (Digital Woodcut)

On March 20, during a trip into Boston, I took pictures of the magnolia trees in bloom in Boston's Back Bay. Although I have already posted the original version of this image, as well as a posterized version, tonight I decided to see what it would look like as a digital woodcut. I opened the image in Painter 12 and got to work. There was a lot of trial and error as I adjusted the controls. The problem was to get just the right amount of black line where I wanted it, to accentuate the architectural lines without overwhelming the delicate magnolias. After many failed attempts, I decided to use the magic wand tool so I could apply the woodcut effect selectively, and put it just where I wanted it. So here's an image of magnolias in Boston Back's Bay; like the Boston Marathon, it happens every spring. And it is still amazing, every time.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Marsh Grasses in Spring

Marsh Grasses in Spring by randubnick
Marsh Grasses in Spring, a photo by randubnick on Flickr.

This is a photo that I took back on April 3 during a walk at Bradley Palmer State Park in Topsfield, MA. Marsh grasses were just beginning to emerge. I liked the way they looked in the water, so I took some pictures with my iPhone camera. Later, I did a little editing in iPhoto and cropped one of the images to get this composition.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Toward Spruce Head

Toward Spruce Head by randubnick
Toward Spruce Head, a photo by randubnick on Flickr.

Here's another image from a day trip to Maine. We were driving toward Spruce Head Island, trying to arrive by 3 PM. This picture was taken at 2:40 while we were still lost among the coastal islands. I was in the passenger seat, trying to navigate, but also snapping a few photos of the scenery with my iPhone camera. Tonight I used iPhoto to crop out the side view mirror and car interior. Then I did some basic editing and adjusting to get this composition.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Under White Blossoms

Under White Blossoms by randubnick
Under White Blossoms, a photo by randubnick on Flickr.

The weather was warmer today, near 60, so we took the dog to Obear Park (Beverly, MA). The pear trees were blooming, as they are all over town. Some of the branches were low enough that I could get a close-in view, so I stood right underneath the tree and took pictures with my iPhone camera. Tonight I used iPhoto to crop this image to get this somewhat quirky composition.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Flowering Quince and Stone Wall (Digitally Modified Photo)

Here's another image of flowering quince, taken during yesterday's walk at Lynch Park, here in Beverly, MA. When I originally took this picture, I was thinking about the contrast of bright blossoms overhanging the stone wall and the spiny branches against the soft sand. But when I transferred the image into my computer and looked closely, I could see a big piece of rusty old machinery sitting on the wall, right in the middle of my photo. It was an interesting object in itself, but it was ruining my composition. So tonight I opened the image in Painter 12 and used cut-and-paste and digital pastel to cover up metal with stone. Then I posterized the image just a bit, to cover my tracks. Then I did a final crop to get this composition.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Flowering Quince

Flowering Quince by randubnick
Flowering Quince, a photo by randubnick on Flickr.

Today we went for a walk at Lynch Park. While we were walking along a beach, I saw some flowering quince. It was beautiful, bright flowers overhanging a stone wall bordering the beach (and at eye level, which I always appreciate!) I used to have some flowering quince in my backyard in Lawrence, Kansas, so I am partial to it. I like the contrast of the lush blossoms on the branches, still nearly bare in early spring. I took several photos, then tonight used iPhoto to crop this image out of the best one.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hot Pink Daisies

Hot Pink Daisies by randubnick
Hot Pink Daisies, a photo by randubnick on Flickr.

I was rushing around doing errands this morning, and on my way into the grocery store, I noticed that the flowers are on sale outside, so it must be officially spring here north of Boston. I strolled on over to the flowers to have a quick look. What I expected pansies, and I wasn't disappointed. But I was surprised to see this bright flowers that look like daisies, but are hot pink (almost fuschia). So I stopped and took some pictures. Tonight I used iPhoto to edit what I had, and this is the best of the bunch. I forgot to look for a label, to find out what kind of flower this is. I search Google tonight and did find some bright pink daisies that look like this.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Forsythia at Long Hill Gardens

Here is another photo from last week's walk at Long Hill Gardens (April 1, 2012). The forsythia was in bloom. I liked the bright yellow and the curving lines of the branches. Tonight I used iPhoto to crop the image to get this composition.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Evening Light in Maine

Evening Light in Maine by randubnick
Evening Light in Maine, a photo by randubnick on Flickr.

This is another image from last weekend's trip to Maine. By the time we left Spruce Head Island, heading for home, it was early evening. The light was beautiful so I started taking pictures with my iPhone camera. This photo was taken around 6:45 PM, and according to iPhoto and Google Maps, this is the Sheepscott River near Wiscasset Maine. In the original photo, the side-view mirror and part of the car interior are visible (I was taking photos from the passenger's side) as well as the guard rails on the bridge. But I was concentrating on the light and this view. Tonight I used iPhoto to crop this image out of the original photo. I sharpened it just a tiny bit to compensate for the radical crop, but the colors are just as the image came out of the camera. I think this might make a good subject for a painting; it would certainly be a challenge. Although the composition is simple, the colors are very subtle.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Matza Ball Soup

Matza Ball Soup by randubnick
Matza Ball Soup, a photo by randubnick on Flickr.

Yesterday I made this little drawing of chicken soup with matza balls to use as an illustration to accompany a recipe in our food blog. This was for a family recipe, and I had been thinking about this drawing for about a week. Yesterday, before breakfast, I sat down and sketched imy idea in pencil. Then I finalized the lines with fineline marker and used my trusty crayons to add color. I had a great time! (If you want to see the blog post, go to Seasonings for Every Palate ( and find the post for April 6th, "Grandma Aptaker's Chicken Soup with Matza Balls."

Friday, April 06, 2012

Looking Up at Spring Blossoms

It was a busy day but we managed to fit in a walk at the Cummings Center Pond, despite pre-holiday weekend traffic tie-ups and last-minute errands. It was beautiful at the pond. The pear tree is in bloom, and I liked the way it looked against the bright blue sky so I took this picture. And as usual, when life seems too crazy is when it is most important to stop and look at nature, notice the changes that mark the seasons, be aware of the passage of time, and grateful for the blessings all around.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Weeping Cherry at Long Hill

Last Sunday, we went to Long Hill Gardens, here in Beverly, MA. I had a lot of work to do, and thought I couldn't spare the time. And the weather wasn't great, too cold to tromp around the gardens. But as usual, when I saw the gardens, I changed my mind. Due to the spike in temperatures that we had a few weeks ago, lots of things are blooming early, so there was a lot to see. Even from the parking lot, I could see that this weeping cherry was in bloom. I took this picture when we got closer, shooting up towards the sky. Tonight I edited it in iPhoto, adjusting the lighting and saturation (to compensate for the colors I lost by shooting towards the white sky), and finally, cropping the image to get this composition.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Mom and Dad's Duet (Digital Woodcut)

A few months ago, I stumbled across a fading Polaroid snapshot of my folks playing piano. Although my parents played duets all the time, this was the only photo that I found of them at the piano. I might have taken it myself because it was in my own album, with other photos that I took during the 1970s. When I found the old photo a few months ago, I put it aside because I knew I wanted to do something with it. Today I scanned it in to my computer, then opened it in Painter. First, I used cut and paste and some digital pastel to simplify the background. Then I posterized it and added some color overlay, going for the iconic fuschia wallpaper (though perhaps this room was chartruese, but I am not sure.) Then I added the digital woodcut effect, applying it selectively to get the right amount of black where I wanted it. The last step was to straighten, crop, and retouch a bit in iPhoto, and here it is. This is a lot of work for a little photo, but it means a lot to me because this is how I remember them best. My mom played from sheet music and my dad played by ear, songs like "Taking a Chance on Love" and "Tea for Two" and other forties hits. I am posting this today because they were married on April 4, 1943. And although they have both been gone for some time now, there is still time for me to celebrate my luck in having such great parents.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Staircase in Camden, Maine

Staircase in Camden, Maine by randubnick
Staircase in Camden, Maine, a photo by randubnick on Flickr.

This is another photo from last weekend's trip to Maine. I loved this staircase that leads to the water front, so I took a picture with my iPhone camera. Tonight I used iPhoto to crop it to get this composition.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Chicken Collage Day 20 (April 2, 2012)

Today I went up to Porter Mill Studios and worked for a while on this project, a collage of a chicken made up of patterns. I spent about an hour working on the tail feathers, pasting in small pieces of polka-dot pattern. It is like working on a very tiny jig-saw puzzle. I think I made progress, but it is hard to see. I am prepared to be persistent.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Near Spruce Head, Maine

Near Spruce Head, Maine by randubnick
Near Spruce Head, Maine, a photo by randubnick on Flickr.

Yesterday we drove up to Maine, heading for Spruce Head. The coast of Maine is unknown territory to me, so I had my camera ready. I was taking photos from the passenger seat; the views were too amazing to pass up. Tonight I edited this one in iPhoto. First I had to crop out the car mirror and interior that I had capture with my iPhone camera. Then I adjusted the shadows, highlights, and exposure. Then I cropped again to get this composition. This is quite an amazing place!